Art of Universe Snarl by Dan Khanna, published in an issue of Universe.

I’m not going to go into the full backstory of the Beast Machines line. I’ll save that for when I get to those actual toys. The short version is the Maximals of the Beast Wars line are now technorganic and fighting Megatron’s drone-like Vehicons on a conquered Cybertron. The technorganic designs were intended to be a mix of organic and technological designs and thanks to the cartoon I see their transformations a bit differently that I do the usual Transformer transformation, but how much of that is due to the design I can’t say.

Snarl was never featured in the cartoon and his part in comics is a bit sparse. However, when I first saw the original Beast Machines version I picked him up and very much enjoyed him. Back when I had more money and room than sense I picked up recolor from the Universe line, also called Snarl, because I liked the mold that much. Since then my collection has gotten huge to the point of not being fun which is why I do these sets of Transformers Reports. The question is whether or not I’ll have two Snarls, just one, or none at all.

“Copycat!”

Snarl is a technorganic lion, a mix of organic and technological components and it does work well. Which is better is a matter of preference. Beast Machines Snarl has golden armor, blue organics, and Lion-O’s mane from Thundercats. I think that’s what sealed the deal for me on him. Universe Snarl trades the gold for black, and you’ll see later how extra important that is. The blue of the organic areas are now red, and so are his eyes. I think the green eyes were the better idea as the red looks too vicious, more Decepticon than the Autobot he is in this line or the Maximal he was. (Maximals are descendants of the Autobots in the Beast Wars show. Yes, I know about the change in IDW comics. No, I don’t care.) I do like the gold mane with red and white accents but it doesn’t have the bonus nostalgia vibe his Maximal form did.

“I saw it first!” “Of course you did, I can’t see anything.”

Posability is a mixed bag for poor Snarl. The head turns but on indents. Turning to the side activates a jaw-opening gimmick that is kind of lame. The mane, due to transformation, is stable so it doesn’t move with his head. You have to make sure everything is placed right in order to get the head posing to look okay. His other two gimmicks (one I’ll discuss in robot mode) negatively affect his articulation but are designed as play features. (Toys for kids having play features. What do you know?) The right front leg has that disk that you use for a paw swipe in lion mode and a weapon attack in robot mode. It works fine but you can’t lock the arm in a position as a result. He has an elbow joint on his other legs and all four have decent beast hips. The tail moves back and forth. It doesn’t help portray mood but it does allow you to move it out of the way.

After all the trouble I went through to drag Beast Machines Snarl out, this happens..

Snarl has another gimmick that doesn’t affect posing at all, but it did lead to Beast Machines Snarl being damaged. A joint gimmick of the Beast Machines line was a hidden spark crystal (replacing the now easy to replicate “rub signs” used to denote an official Transformers toy versus a knockoff that has also been abandoned) that you would open something to find. That started with the Transmetal 2 Beast Wars and continued here. In Snarl’s case his leg pushes up to reveal the spark crystal.

Well, when I went to do it on Beast Snarl it was very tight. This is odd given his joints have been a bit looser than Universe Snarl’s. I was hoping to do it a few times and loosen it up for the photo shoot and instead the front of the shin broke…and then broke again while trying to put it back on. Something is up with the mechanism and the shin (or what’s left of it) now won’t lie flat. So even if I just wanted to glue it in place since I never really used the gimmick that often in my displays I can’t. Meanwhile, the tight-jointed Universe Snarl has no problem revealing the same area but they just tampographed an Autobot symbol on that spot. The Transformers Wiki says they used spark crystals from the Dinobots I reviewed before. Personally I would have used the Maximal one as an homage to his former faction and put the Autobot symbol somewhere we can see it but oh well. Let’s get him transformed.

And this time I’m not using photo editing.

Seeing them together like this I’m still not sure which way I prefer. On the one hand leaving the hip joints in lion position makes him less stubby but in the robot position of the instructions his legs flow better. There’s more detailing on the chest but you can better see the lion face on Beast Snarl’s chest while on Universe Snarl it looks more like simple chest decoration. The red eyes look even more evil on robot mode than it did for lion mode, and the black armor with red organics doesn’t help. His hands are gold rather than the gold armor on Beast Snarl, who has orange hands.

“Stop dancing over there!”

As mentioned earlier, the claw swipe is now replaced with a weapon attack, but then you run into the other issue. The hands of the robots are paws of the lions just with a thumb. He can’t actually hold his weapon, allegedly an axe formed from his tail but it looks more like a sickle or maybe a small scythe. Either way he’s holding it backwards since it just connects to a peg in his right palm (he can’t hold it in his left) so he’s actually bashing the Vehicon/Decepticon with the wrong side. His other gimmick is a power punch, which at least allows for an elbow bend but no swivels on either of them. The legs have a good range of posing but thanks to how the beast mane becomes the robot hair the head has no usable articulation. If you connect the mane correctly you can push down on it and make Snarl’s robot jaw open and close. Sort of. Universe Snarl gets more of a scowl while that’s more than Beast Snarl gives me.

Decision: Stays

To be honest I do like the mold, but Universe Snarl doesn’t impress as much as his predecessor does. Not that it looks bad, just that it isn’t as good. As much as I like the mold I wasn’t sure I needed more than one (something we will see happen and not happen again in future reuses of molds) so I was going to take out Universe Snarl. And then I saw this video!

There’s a certain type of gold plastic Hasbro made the mistake of using that gets brittle over time, especially in storage. The effect is referred to by fans as Gold Plastic Syndrome, although it also affects other plastics, and Beast Machines Snarl here found it to be deadly. I’m worried that someday, since I pack up the Transformers not currently on display, that Beast Machines Snarl will succumb to this and I’m not sure if that was responsible for the cracking of the spark crystal gimmick or not. It could just be the first sign. I do like the mold enough that I want at least one version of him, so Universe Snarl is staying in my collection just in case.

I’ll finish the rest of his Beast Wars friends some day in the future but right now this series of reviews is about the Universe line. It’s the next Micromaster Combiner next time.

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